We all need Advent.
It reflects the truth that
even during the darkest time of the year,
there is a Light that shines in the darkness,
a Light the darkness cannot overcome.
How we need Advent to remember this word from God:
Just yesterday, I was walking through the woods,
feeling dwarfed by the grandeur of God.
I felt seized by my unworthiness.
I have failed Him in so many ways:
as a daughter, wife, mother, friend, and child of God.
I often think,
How can You love me?
If I could do this all again, I’d do it better.
Then I wonder if I really would!
And the enemy tells me God could not love one like me,
yet I know that is a lie from the pit of hell.
God loves me with an everlasting love, just as I am,
not as I long to be.
He sees me as pure as the new fallen snow.
He loves us as He loves Jesus! (John 17:23)
I know you need this reminder as much as I do,
so this Advent we are going to look at the women
Matthew lists in the lineage of Christ.
There is much that is praiseworthy in them,
yet they were all sinners,
like each of us.
We are all broken vessels,
yet if we are His, His light is in us,
shining through the cracks,
to show that the glory is from Him,
and not we ourselves.
I hope you will join us this Advent!
Though Advent begins officially next Sunday,
I need this week to tuck in one of my favorite women,
who, though not listed in the lineage by Matthew,
is in the lineage,
for her son, Judah, is mentioned.
Christ is the Lion from the tribe of Judah.
Leah, Tim Keller says, was
“the girl nobody wanted.”
She had neither the beauty nor the romantic love
that the world says makes a woman valuable.
There was something “broken” about Leah’s eyes
that made her unattractive.
Not only that, when Jacob looked at her, all he could see
was that she was “not Rachel.”
But God saw her,
and had mercy on her.
When she believed in that love,
He filled her with light, love, and a legacy
that Rachel never knew.
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. Do you find, as Martin Luther said, that “the default mode of your heart is works righteousness?” Do you often feel the reason you suffer is that God is punishing you for your sin? Do you often feel if you only lived better He would love you more? Be as honest as you can and then refute those lies with Scriptural truth.
Monday: Orphan or Child of God?
I recently finished a spiritual autobiography by Rose Marie Miller (widow of Jack Miller) called from Fear To Freedom. She moved from always feeling like a victim and living “like an orphan” to learning to live into her identity as a beloved child of God. She said she had a “victim” mentality, always blaming others. It’s a worthwhile read.
Many of the women in the genealogy of Christ were oppressed and abused, yet they rose above it. How? Through works righteousness? No – by coming to trust the love of God.
Surely Leah had reasons to see herself as a victim. We’ve studied Leah before here, so I’m going to trust you know the basics of her story, but do a simple review today before we approach her from a new angle.
Jacob’s mother Rebekah urged him to deceive his blind father and dress up like his brother to get the blessing they both wanted for him. Now Leah’s father dresses Leah up like her sister to deceive Jacob. Leah might have wanted this too — we can’t be sure. But it seems Leah’s lack of outward beauty is what caused Laban to come up with this ruse and pawn her off through deceit. She was veiled heavily, like the orthodox Jewish bride in this photo, and there were no electric lights, so she made it through the wedding and the wedding night without being discovered.
3. Read Genesis 29:25-31
A. What was Jacob’s reaction when the morning light came?
B. How would you have felt if you had been Leah?
C. Tim Keller thinks it is possible that when Jacob used the word “deceived” that God’s Spirit cut him to the heart, reminding him that he too was a deceiver. Thoughts?
D. How long did Leah have Jacob to herself. Read carefully.
E. What do you learn in verse 30-31 about Jacob’s feelings for Leah?
F. Imagine what life was like for Leah. What reasons might she feel like a victim?
G. Who did love Leah?
4. Read Genesis 29:32-35
A. What did Leah name her firstborn son and why?
B. What does this tell you about her relationship with God?
C. What did Leah hope would happen as a result of giving Jacob a son?
D. What did Leah name her second son and why?
E. What does this tell you about her relationship with God?
F. What did Leah hope would happen as a result of giving Jacob two sons?
g. What did Leah name her third son and why? What did she hope would happen?
H. What did Leah name her fourth son? Why, do you think?
i. How do you see a turn?
Tuesday: Worshipping our Way Out
Pastor James Noriega said, “We worshipped our way into this mess, but by God’s grace we will worship our way out.” He was speaking of idolatry, which we see in Leah’s life. She thought what she needed most was her husband’s love. Worship can also help us out of the pit of victim mentality. God is not against us but for us, and remembering that got Leah out, and can do the same for us. She felt the hurt inflicted upon her, yet she went from victim to victor. I think we all have times of feeling forgotten, lonely, even unloved.
This week I was fearful about dealing with my broken hand as a widow. But I started praising God for past mercies and it helped me do a “Leah turn.” I often also will listen to and pray this song by Fernando Ortega, and it helps me worship my way out of the pity pit.
5. Leah reminds me a bit of Hagar, who “saw the God who saw her.” What, through the naming of her sons, can you see that Leah knew about God?
6. Worship the Lord by remembering a time when, like Leah, you sensed God saw your misery, heard your cry and responded. What was it and why do you think He saw you and cared?
7. What musical artist or album helps you to worship during Advent and why?
Wednesday: Rachel’s Legacy and Leah’s Legacy
You cannot watch a Hallmark Christmas movie without being impacted by what the world thinks makes a woman valuable: outward beauty and the love of a hunky man. We certainly haven’t changed much since the days of Rachel and Leah. I admit I have enjoyed some of the Hallmark Christmas movies, but at Hallmark it seems it is always Christmas and never Jesus. The solution to life’s emptiness is “the romantic solution,” not Jesus. It does remind me of Leah’s mindset until God brought her to her senses.
8. What is redemptive and what is destructive in Hallmark Christmas movies? Is there a Hallmark movie or show you have seen that you recommend? If so, why?
Both physical beauty and the love of a good man are gifts, but they can never satisfy our deepest longings. Take Rachel, who had both of these gifts.
9. What do you learn about Rachel in the following passages?
A. Genesis 29:16-18
B. Genesis 29:30
C. Genesis 30:1
D. Genesis 30:8
E. Genesis 30:14-15
F. Genesis 31:19 and 31:34-35
G. Genesis 35:16-18
10. How would you describe Rachel’s character, relationship with God, and legacy?
This quote from Leslie Williams makes me ponder and repent:
Without knowing fully what we are doing, we hide the things we secretly love under our skirts, like Rachel, sitting primly and righteously on our camels, wondering why we are not whole, why we still suffer, why we are not reconciled to the God we profess.
11. What do you learn about Leah’s legacy from the following?
A. Genesis 49:29-33
I may be reading more into the above than is there, but I wonder if Jacob came to appreciate Leah and liked the idea of being buried near her. What do you think?
B. Ruth 4:11 (Look deeply at the prayer of the women of Moab for Ruth. What did they pray and in what way does Ruth, indeed, follow in the steps of Leah?)
C. Hebrews 7:11
D. Revelation 5:5
12. How would you describe Leah’s character, relationship with God, and legacy?
Thursday-Friday: Tim Keller sermon
Tim Keller has two wonderful sermons on this story, and both are free. Many of you have already heard the older one, “The Girl Nobody Wanted,” so you may want to listen to the other one “The Struggle for Love.” Or listen to both. Listen while you wrap gifts or bake cookies. Then come back and share notes or comments.
The Girl Nobody Wanted — click here:
The Struggle for Love — click here:
13. Share your notes and comments.
14. How might you apply the lesson of Leah to your life right now?